Totally Yours! Hundreds having fun with faith

The new Diocese of Venice Totus Tuus Summer Camp has been generating a lot of buzz as it moves from Parish to Parish each week. Hundreds of children and teens have been having fun learning about the Catholic Faith throughout the Diocese.

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic Faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The camp is directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augment the team and together they make the week one to remember for all who participate.

Father Jiobani Batista, Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle – which hosted Totus Tuus the week of June 20-24, 2022 – said if he had his way, he would welcome a Totus Tuus Summer Camp every week, all summer.

“The enthusiasm and wonder of the young children have been great,” Father Batista said. “Then, the engagement and excitement from the teens was incredible. I am having young kids come up to me at each break asking me questions about everything. That is amazing. To see their interest and excitement about Jesus, the Mass and everything about their Faith is very exciting.”

The day camp program is for grades one to five, and is Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and evenings are for grades six through 12, is Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. The camp opened the week of June 6 at St. Katherine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral, where 50 children, and 27 youth participated. Then the following week at St. Agnes Parish in Naples some 100 young children and more than 60 teens participated, with a group coming from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee.

The Our Lady Queen of Heaven week engaged more than 100 children during the day and some 60 youth in the evening. This group also included children from St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston. This was followed by a week at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, with participants (about 100 youth and 60 teens) also coming from St. James Parish in Lake Placid and Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park.

Each day of the children’s camp, the participants learn lessons about the importance of prayer, and ways to pray, from the basics of the Our Father and Hail Mary to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. They also learn about the importance of the Eucharist and how Jesus walks with them all the time.

Diocesan Seminarians Juan Contreras and James Gates are fully involved in the daily activities of the camp, taking charge of some classes of the younger campers and being team leaders for the older groups in the evenings.

“I think this camp is making a difference and it’s fun to see how much enthusiasm the little kids have and compare that to the teens and their questions, which are much more serious and profound,” Contreras said.

“It is great to see the reaction of the little kids when they learn something new,” Gates said. “The teens just like to hang out, but they are interested and that is important.”

Seeing the seminarians every day, in a relaxed setting, gives the campers of all ages a positive role model whom they can look up to and interact with, which is an opportunity they might not otherwise have. Some of their impactful actions by the seminarians are subtle: such as a compliment here, or a smile there, and perhaps a high five for a job well done. At other times, the seminarians teach the young children the basics of praying the Our Father and Hail Mary, or they are leaders in prayer, such as during the Liturgy of the Hours with the youth in the evening, or perhaps when they join in the crazy dancing and fun games.

“Having the young children and youth see the seminarians is really inspiring,” Father Batista said. “They are great with the little ones and can answer any question for the teens. In fact, I already have some inquiring to be a Totus Tuus missionary next year and others who are expressing an interest in a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. That is great. I wish we had all of the seminarians here.”

After the final evening prayer with the youth at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, many of the teens sought out the two seminarians, as well as the other four missionaries, to personally thank them, often seeking a high-five, fist-bump or even a hug, always with a big smile.

Angelica Pena, Director of Religious Education at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, praised the structure and focus of Totus Tuus. She was amazed at how well her students were picking up the most complex of topics and then remembering the next day.

“This is a whole year of religious education crammed into one week for the young ones, and they love it, and more importantly the parents love it,” Pena said. “They are learning, and they are remembering prayers and lessons in a way that just doesn’t happen when you see them for 90 minutes each week.”

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus for the rest of the summer are: St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, July 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

There are still some openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Long serving religious sister dies

Sister Catherine Buster, Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, passed away on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Indiana. She was 85 and had been a religious sister for 66 years. Within the Diocese of Venice, Sister Catherine, who was better known as Sister Cathy, worked for a combined 21 years, first in the Real Estate Department before devoting her talents to serving in Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

Sister Cathy was born Nov. 3, 1936, in Chicago, one of seven children, and educated at Marywood High School in Evanston, Ill., and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, St. Mary’s, Indiana. Sister Cathy, formerly Sister Joseph Norine, entered the Sisters of Providence Congregation on Feb. 2, 1956, and professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1963. Sister Cathy served in various capacities in her religious order in Missouri, Illinois and Michigan, before coming to the Diocese of Venice in 1999.

For the Diocese, Sister Cathy was director of Real Estate and administrative assistant to the Building Commission. Beginning in 2005, Sister Cathy worked with Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Housing as a consultant on various housing projects assisting elderly, low-income families, and farmworkers following Hurricane Charley. Sister was a catalyst in helping to establish the Casa San Juan Bosco Farmworker Housing of Catholic Charities in Arcadia. That project now encompasses 97 single-family homes and an adjacent 64-unit St. John Paul II Villas for low-income seniors.

Funeral services for Sister Catherine will take place on Saturday, July 9, 2022, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. A Wake will take place at 10 a.m., followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m.

 

Parish Mission and day camps bring delight

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula has been busy! For two weeks in mid-June, the Parish held day camps for children and evening missions for the adults all while hosting 28 men and women who are discerning a vocation to a religious life.

Daily, between June 13 and June 24, 2022, more than 100 children arrived at the Parish to take part in a camp which included Mass, prayer, and lots of fun indoor and outdoor activities. The evenings were for the parents who came to hear talks and take part in Mass as part of the “Holy Mission – Save Your Soul.” The response from the children and adults was overwhelmingly positive.

Present to assist were 13 novice sisters, who are discerning a vocation for the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, and 15 seminarians who are discerning for the Incarnate Word religious order in Washington, D.C. They were joined by the four women religious and the priests of the Parish.

The busy two weeks culminated on June 24, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is celebrated annually on the Friday after Corpus Christi Sunday. The closing evening Mass included prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even a renewal of wedding vows for many couples.

A Sacred Heart Procession was held with a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus led in the rain around the Parish property as the faithful sang and prayed. The procession concluded in front of a new cross which was erected to commemorate the Holy Mission. The priests present led everyone in prayer and blessed the cross. All then took part in a farewell reception in the Parish Hall to thank the novice sisters and seminarians for being present at St. Michael Parish, and also to pray for them as they continue their discernment into a religious life.

Faith Can Be Fun!

What do you get when upwards of 100 children gather for a special summer camp – a growth in Faith and lots of fun.

Part way into its second week, the inaugural Totus Tuus Summer Camp for children and teens has been a great success. The opening week, June 6-10, 2022, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral, brought in 50 children each day and 27 teens each evening. The second week, June 13-17, is at St. Agnes Parish in Naples and there are more than 100 children and 60 youth taking part. Among the group at St. Agnes were also children from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee.

The goal of the Totus Tuus Summer Camp is to help young people grow in their understanding of the faith and strengthening of their faith in Jesus Christ. The camp is directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augment the team and together they make the week one to remember for all who participate.

Each day of the weeklong camp, the children and youth learn lessons about the importance of prayer, and ways to pray, from the basics of the Our Father and Hail Mary to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

They also learn about the importance of the Eucharist and how Jesus walks with them all the time, explained Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education.

The day begins with music to pump the children up and get them ready for the full day ahead with all the time focused on learning key lessons about their faith. In addition to dancing, music and prayer, the children have time for activities such as crafts and games.

There is time for Mass each day with additional quiet reflective time in Eucharistic Adoration and three days when there is opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Mass portion of the day is more than participating in the important celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is at this time during the camp when the children not only learn the various hymns but also learn about the different parts of the Mass and why they are so key to this important celebration. For example, when entering the Church, the children are brought to the Holy Water Font and taught how and why they are to respectfully dip their finger in the water and bless themselves.

Diocesan Seminarians Juan Contreras and James Gates are fully involved in the daily activities of the camp, serving as leaders in prayer and offering their discernment stories to the teens in the evenings. They serve as leaders when teaching about hearing the call of the Lord in one’s life, citing their own examples as a guide for others to follow.

The teen aspect of the summer camp is confined to the evenings and focuses on allowing the Totus Tuus missionaries and seminarians to share their stories and lead discussions on topics that are important to young people today. The teens also take part in Adoration and there is a special focus on growing their prayer life and relationship with the Lord.

There is a mid-week potluck during which families come and see firsthand what their children have learned as they perform skits or short plays about different aspects of their faith. The week concludes with a water day of outside fun and games.

Rose M. Talbot-Babey, Director of Religious Education at St. Katharine Drexel, sent a note to Chrzan about the week, saying she received lots of positive feedback from parents and children alike about how they enjoyed the Totus Tuus camp.

“In particular, the children were sharing what they had learned once they got home which is so encouraging and the parents were pleased with that,” Talbot-Babey wrote.

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus this summer are: St. Katherine Drexel; St. Agnes in Naples; Our Lady Queen of Heaven in La Belle, June 20-24; St. Catherine in Sebring, June 27-July 1; St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, July 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

The camp program, for grades 1-5, takes place Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12, it is Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m.

Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Lay movement brings people back to Faith

Members of the John XXIII Parish Retreats Movement gathered at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid on June 12, 2022, to celebrate the conclusion of another retreat.

At total of 29 women took part in the three-day retreat with their family and others taking part on the final day for the closing Mass. This makes more than 1,000 who have returned to the faith in the Diocese of Venice through the John XXIII Movement.

The John XXIII Movement is a private international association of laity, with the goal of leading marginalized communities to God. To be part of the movement you must have experienced the initial retreat experience. After completing the retreat, participants are encouraged to attend faith-formation classes and weekly meetings to strengthen their faith and personal relationship with God. Rooted in Eucharistic Adoration, the ministry serves the Church and its people through love, surrender, and sacrifice.

The Movement is constituted according to the canons of Canon Law of the Catholic Church and inspired by the principles that emanated from the Second Vatican Council. The Movement, from its origins, goes out in search of the forgotten and the marginalized, of those, who due to their problems, live in the anonymity of life thinking that the Gospel cannot be preached to them. In addition to the John XXIII Movement, the Diocese has eight additional lay outreach efforts, many of which are directed toward the Hispanic faithful.

Father Claudio Stewart, Diocese of Venice Director of the Hispanic Apostolate and Movement Spiritual Director, celebrated the closing Mass of the retreat which was a graduation of sorts for the women and a joyous welcome back into the Faith.

“They come to this retreat not expecting anything and leave with everything, the love of their family, the love of the community, the love of Christ,” Father Stewart said. “It is an emotional journey as they must seek the Lord’s forgiveness for sins they have done to themselves and those done to others. This is not easy.”

Following the Mass, each woman stood up and offered their story. This was done while holding a crucifix for support, as they each first explained how they heard about the John XXIII Movement and then what they experienced during the retreat. Finally, as their family looks on, and everyone is smiling in encouragement, the woman then expresses their emotional apologies and remorse to their family and friends and also their gratitude for leading them back to Christ.

Once they are done with their testimonial, each woman is cheered and approaches their friends and family, who have been held back to allow them the space to be open and honest. The reunion is full of hugs and presentations of roses, a symbolic gesture of the Blessed Virgin Mary and their new closeness to the Lord. The celebration concludes with celebratory music and a fiesta of food and fellowship.

“This is a well-organized and transformative program,” Father Stewart said. “The people on these retreats have many reasons for being away from the Church, but with the support and encouragement they are given, their return is a true celebration for the individual, their family, their friends and everyone who is part of the Movement and the Church in the Diocese of Venice.”

For more information about the John XXIII Movement, please contact Father Stewart at stewart@dioceseofvenice.org or Jose Pastor Ramirez, Diocesan Coordinator, at JosePR72@hotmail.com.

National Eucharistic Revival to begin June 19

“The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ ‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.’” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324

The Bishops of the United States are calling for a three-year grassroots revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The U.S Bishops believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”

The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate in the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years. More than 100,000 Catholics are expected to join together in Indianapolis for a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage toward the “source and summit” of our Catholic Faith.

This three-year plan to revive the place of the Eucharist in the minds, hearts and lives of Catholics in the United States has its official start with the 2022 Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) on June 19. Parishes across the Diocese of Venice are planning Corpus Christi processions for June 19, in conjunction with similar celebrations around the country.

The Diocesan Year of the National Eucharistic Revival is from June 19, 2022, to June 11, 2023. During the Diocesan Year there will be a series of events and retreats that encourage the renewal of the Church “by rekindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” During the Diocesan Year, Eucharistic Missionaries will be trained. These Missionaries are Catholics who through a deep encounter and experience with the Blessed Sacrament, become equipped to share the love and the truth of the Real Presence – Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Diocesan Year will culminate with a Eucharistic Congress held in the Spring of 2023.

The Parish Year will be from June 11, 2023, to July 17, 2024. During the Parish Year, Eucharistic Missionaries will encourage increased Eucharistic Adoration in their Parishes, family prayer, and small group prayer. Free resources will be made available to facilitate and encourage an increased devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in families and Parishes.

The U.S. Catholic Church’s three-year eucharistic revival “is not a program but a movement” that is an invitation to the faithful from God to go on mission and be compelling witnesses of our faith, said Carrie Harkey, Director of the Diocesan Family Life Office and Interim Director of Evangelization.

“The National Eucharistic Revival is part of an exciting journey as the Eucharist stands at the center of our Faith,” Harkey said. “The timing of this is crucial in reminding the faithful about what the Second Vatican Council taught, that the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ and is an opportunity to have an intimate encounter with Christ.”

Taking its title from the Bread of Life discourse in John’s Gospel, “My flesh for the life of the world/Mi carne para la vida del mundo,” the Eucharistic Revival is not a step-by-step plan or a series of meetings; it is a grassroots call and a challenge for every Catholic across the United States to rekindle the fire of love and devotion for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. Over three years, every Catholic Diocese, Parish, school, apostolate, and family is invited to be a part of renewing the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The U.S. Bishops approved plans for the Revival and the Congress in November 2021 during their fall general assembly in Baltimore.

Stay tuned for more information about what is planned on the Diocesan level at www.dioceseofvenice.org. To learn more about the National Eucharistic Revival, please visit https://eucharisticrevival.org. There you will find a free online course from Bishop Andrew Cozzens, of the Diocese of Crookston and head of the Committee for Evangelization and Catechesis at the USCCB, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” which can be utilized in parishes, small groups, or for individual study.

Prayer for the Revival

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You!

I beg pardon for those who do not believe, nor

adore, nor hope, nor love You. (Three times)

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I

adore You profoundly. I offer You the most

precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus

Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world

in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and

indifference by which He is offended. And,

through the infinite merits of the Sacred

Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

I beg of You the conversion of sinners.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Oración para el avivamiento

¡Dios mío, yo creo, adoro, espero y te amo!

¡Te pido perdón por los que no creen, no

adoran, no esperan, no te aman! (Tres veces)

Santísima Trinidad, Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo, yo

te adoro profundamente y te ofrezco el

Preciosísimo Cuerpo, Sangre, Alma y Divinidad de

nuestro Señor Jesucristo, presente en todos los

Sagrarios del mundo, en reparación de los ultrajes

con los que Él es ofendido. Por los méritos infinitos

del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús y del Inmaculado

Corazón de María, te pido la conversión de los

pecadores.

Nuestra Señora de Fátima,

ruega por nosotros.

Sacrament of Confirmation – More Perfectly Bound to the Church as True Witnesses to Christ

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation the Christian initiation is completed as the recipients become more perfectly bound to the Church as true witnesses to Christ. This season almost 1,500 have been confirmed in the Diocese of Venice.

Pope Francis said Confirmation is a Sacrament which must be understood as a continuation of the faith journey, beginning with Baptism, along with the Eucharist, to constitute a single saving event – Christian initiation – “in which we are brought into Christ who died and rose again, and become new creatures and members of the Church.”

Throughout much of history, these three Sacraments were celebrated together, at the end of the catechumenal path – normally on Holy Saturday, Pope Francis continued. “This concluded the process of formation and gradual insertion into the Christian community that could take several years. It was a step-by-step process, first reaching Baptism, then Confirmation, and finally the Eucharist.”

The term ‘confirmation’ must remind one that this Sacrament involves growth from baptismal grace, Pope Francis said. “It unites us more firmly with Christ; it completes our bond with the Church; it accords to us the special strength of the Holy Spirit in order to spread and to defend the faith, to confess the name of Christ and never to be ashamed of His Cross.”

It should be noted that while the order of the Sacraments may have changed over time, Pope Francis said that “Confirmation, like every Sacrament, is not the work of men, but rather the work of God, Who takes care of our lives in order to mold us in the image of His Son, to make us able to love like Him. He infuses us with the Holy Spirit whose action pervades the whole person and all of life, as is shown by the Seven Gifts that Tradition, in the light of the Sacred Scriptures, has always made clear: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord.”

When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow it to act, Christ Himself is made present in us and takes form in our lives; through us, it will be He Who prays, forgives, brings hope and consolation, serves our brothers, is close to the needy and the abandoned, Who creates communion and sows peace.”

Here in the Diocese of Venice, a group of young men and women recently completed their own final step of Christian initiation by being “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” during their Confirmation at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton on April 22, 2022. Bishop Frank J. Dewane used sacred Chrism oil to anoint the confirmandi in Bradenton. This has been repeated by Bishop Dewane, and delegated Parish priests, since the fall of 2021, with more than 1,411 young men and women receiving the Sacrament during that time. Among that number were 397 adults who received the Sacrament of Confirmation at their home Parishes on Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil on April 16, 2022.

Bishop Dewane told the confirmandi at Sacred Heart Parish that their sacramental life is key to who they are becoming by growing in the “Grace of God.” In order to do that, they must carry the Gifts of the Holy Spirit with them beyond the four walls of their Church. They must be doers of their Faith because there is nothing passive about being Catholic. The Sacrament of Confirmation is not an ending to the faith journey, but a beginning.

“You are on a journey to become women and men of God,” the Bishop said. “We are each called to follow the lead Jesus gives us. You are old enough to do so freely in receiving this Sacrament,” Bishop Dewane added. “Allow this sacramental gift to enter into your life and carry the Holy Spirit with you from this point forward.”

“This Sacrament makes you more,” he explained. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit and let this conscious action you take be a sign of who you have become as Catholics, and who you are going to be going forward as women and men of God. Be an inspiration to others as you let the light and the gifts of the Holy Spirit shine forth in your words and your deeds.”

During the Sacrament of Confirmation, the candidates renew their baptismal promises, which Bishop Dewane said is done to publicly proclaim who they are as Catholics and to have the courage, hope, faith and perseverance to be true followers of Christ.

As the Rite continues, the Bishop, the attending priests, and all the faithful, pray in silence for the candidates and then the Bishop recites a prayer aloud. Finally, the candidates were presented with the sponsor placing their right hand on the candidates’ right shoulder. Then with his right thumb, the Bishop makes the sign of the cross on their forehead with the holy Chrism oil and says “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is at this point, the Bishop said, that their unity to the Church was complete.

Recently, the Holy Father repeatedly stressed how important of how important it is that all children receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. While there is a logical emphasis on the Sacrament of Baptism, there tends to be less of a focus on the Sacrament of Confirmation. Therefore, those who are baptized remain at a halfway point, and as Pope Francis said, they do not “receive the Holy Spirit that gives us the strength to go forward in Christian life.”

The Diocese of Venice has a religious education program which emphasizes the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation with a two-year process. The young men and women go through a process where they complete one phase of their faith journey and prepare to begin the next phase as full Christians who are called to be more and reflect the love and goodness of Christ in their heart and soul. There is an additional program called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, which not only assists adults in receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, but other Sacraments they might be missing, thus allowing them to be in full Communion with the Church.

TOTUS TUUS – New type of summer camp aims to inspire

For 10 days in late May and early June a group of young men and women gathered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice as they prepared to lead a new type of summer camp at eight different Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice.

These missionaries will lead the Totus Tuus Summer Camp, dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic Faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship. This program assists parents and Parishes in the evangelizing and catechizing of their youth by supplementing the work they are currently doing.

“The goal of the Totus Tuus Summer Camp is to help young people grow in their understanding of, and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ,” explained Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education. “Each day of the weeklong camp, the children and youth learn lessons about prayer, from the basics of the Our Father to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.”

The concept of this unique outreach was started in Wichita, Kansas in 1987 as a summer catechetical program and has grown into a weeklong summer camp which is now active in more than 50 Dioceses with the Diocese of Venice the latest to join in this effort. The program has a proven track record of inspiring active stewards, fruitful vocations and a lifelong love for the Church.

Totus Tuus is a Latin phrase meaning “Totally Yours.” It was a motto of St. John Paul II, taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary.” It signifies our desire to give ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ through Mary.

Each Parish hosting the event will welcome children and teens from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon.  These sessions are divided into daytime camp for children from first grade through sixth, and evening retreats for teens seventh grade through recent high school graduates. The week is filled with faith, fun, and friendship and there are messy games, crazy skits, and music. The college-age leaders provide an authentic witness to the students.

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus this summer are: St. Katherine Drexel in Cape Coral, June 6-10; St. Agnes in Naples, June 13-17; Our Lady Queen of Heaven in La Belle, June 20-24; St. Catherine in Sebring, June 27-July 1; St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, June 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

Additionally, Totus Tuus strives to bring an awareness of vocations in the young adults who serve as missionaries. Each missionary begins the day with morning prayer, praying the rosary and attending daily Mass.  These missionaries serve as teachers for the camp by leading a small group of children or teens each day with lessons and activities to enhance the theme of prayer.

From May 26 to June 6, the missionaries prepared and trained at the Venice retreat center structuring their studies around how the daily camp will progress. Hannah Tuong, of the Diocese of Tulsa, headed the training program.

The 2022 Totus Tuus missionaries are Sam Salyer of the Diocese of Gary, Kate Ihlefeldt, of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Garrett Willie of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Marianna Evangelista of the Archdiocese of Denver. Additionally, assisting the missionaries will be Diocese of Venice Seminarians Juan Contreras, James Gates and Daniel Scanlan.

These missionaries were selected for their energy, enthusiasm, love of the Faith, commitment to spiritual growth, ability to work with a team and a desire to work with youth.

Ihlefeldt took part in Totus Tuus from second grade into high school and described it as the highlight of her summer. She loves singing, playing piano and guitar, reading, hiking, and of course, spending time with Our Lord.

“God is my nearest and dearest friend, and I could not imagine who I would be without Him,” she explained. “One of the many passions in my life is bringing people closer to God, and I think the best way to do that is through the example and testimony of our own lives… The youth need this program now more than ever, and it’s a huge blessing to be part of a team that is dedicated to that mission.”

Slayer is an artist who loves images that give glory to God. While his goal is to help teach everyone he encounters how to fall in love with Christ, “as a missionary, I not only want to help those I teach. I want to have a heart that can be moved by what they teach me about my faith.”

Chrzan said while many of the Parish Totus Tuus camp slots are full, some openings are available by contacting the individual Parish religious education office which can be found by visiting www. https://dioceseofvenice.org/find-a-parish/, For Further information regarding this program contact Anne Chrzan@chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Parish and Mission family retreat held

The faithful of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish and Holy Martyrs Mission in LaBelle were recently given the opportunity to participate in a three-day retreat aimed at building up Catholic families.

Father Jiobani Batista was thrilled with the turn out for the retreat, which was held at the LaBelle Civic Center over the course of three days, with an evening session on May 27, 2022, and full day sessions on May 28 and May 29. Wilson Tamayo led the retreat, which included prayer, music, inspirational talks, presentations, and Eucharistic Adoration. Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation were also offered. The purpose was to help families grow closer to Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Many families face different challenges of faith,” Father Batista said. “We wanted to address these issues directly and give them the tools to grow in their faith, together, as a family.”

A powerful component of the retreat was the different testimonials from families who shared how they overcame various obstacles and challenges as a family and in their faith. Each said that the help and guidance of other family members and friends, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, led them back to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“We went to church every Sunday, but that isn’t enough,” one woman explained. “We lost our way as a family. We didn’t worry about whether our children received the sacraments. It wasn’t a priority. But a friend came to me and invited me to pray the rosary with her. In that invitation, we started our journey back to the Lord, with the Blessed Virgin as our guide.”

“Smile! God Loves You!” Sarasota Pastor of 31 years retires

With a radiant smile and infectious positivity, not to mention his Italian accent, Pallottine Father Fausto Stampiglia retires from St. Martha Parish in Sarasota leaving behind a legacy that is nearly impossible to comprehend.

For the past 31 years, as Pastor of St. Martha, Father Stampiglia – known as Father Fausto to all – served the faithful with all his heart, impacting the lives of countless individuals and families, being there for moments great and small.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1960, now 86, Father Fausto enters retirement comforted by the knowledge that he did the best he could while shining the light of the Lord into the world. A favorite phrase – “Smile, God Loves You!” is on a plaque of his bust on the wall outside the Parish Hall named in his honor, with the rest of the quote saying – “and so do your Parishioners.”

This feeling of love for Father Fausto has been evident throughout his many years and became more prevalent as his retirement approached in recent months.

Comments posted to social media when the official date for Father Fausto’s retirement was made public included: “You will be missed in this role – you have touched so many in our community.”  “You will always have a special place in our hearts. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me and my family.” “Your messages of Christ’s love and infinite ability to forgive us were deeply appreciated!” “Your entire life has been about serving God through us, His children.” “Father Fausto’s legacy is one of great care for generations of students. We pray his retirement be filled with blessed days and good health! Well done, Father Fausto, you have been a good and faithful servant.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane reflected on the impact of Father by stating: “Father Fausto deserves great recognition and praise for the pastoral work he has accomplished in his years of service with the Diocese of Venice. He has been a blessing to the Diocese of Venice and to St. Martha Parish. Most may only know him as the Pastor of St. Martha, but he contributed in so many other areas. His compassion and love for all is always evident. While he is retiring and his cheerful presence will be missed, the legacy Father Fausto leaves behind will be remembered for generations. Father was a legend in his own time!  I know that he will continue the good work of our Lord in his life going forward in all that he does.”

The humble Italian understands how much people care for him and deeply appreciate his service as Pastor at St. Martha. He recently reflected on his life, from growing up in war-torn Italy where he sought shelter from bombings from the age of five to nine; to his entering religious life at 16 with the Society of Catholic Apostolates (Pallottines); then to his scholarly studies then to assignments teaching first in Italy then in East Harlem, New York, then to Albany, New York. Then he became the expert at starting or reinvigorating Permanent Diaconate Programs at several different Dioceses.

That is what brought Father Fausto to the Diocese of Venice in 1986.

Living at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota, Father Fausto worked at the Catholic Center and assisted at Parishes in Sarasota while expanding the Permanent Diaconate program and helping to establish the Institute for Catholic Studies and Faith Formation.

As the Diocese expanded and new Parishes were erected, the Pallottines, with Father Fausto as Pastor, were asked to take over St. Martha Parish in downtown Sarasota in 1991. When he arrived at St. Martha, the Parish was in debt, and St. Martha’s school was facing a possible closure.

With Father Fausto’s charm, patience and humble approach to each problem, the Parish soon got out of debt and the school started adding students. Honesty and directness helped during this process as Father Fausto sought donors to support his plans for the future. This included building a new school on property several miles east of the Parish.

While going through that process, Father saw a need and supported the establishment of a new school for students with learning disabilities, the current St. Mary Academy (then known as Dreams Are Free Academy).

Father also supported the Spanish-speaking Catholics in the area, having been assigned to several Spanish-language Parishes in his early priesthood, and helped to establish St. Jude Parish.

Throughout the years at St. Martha, Father helped establish the Vietnamese and Tridentine Rite Masses, and has always been a strong supporter of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., including St. Martha Early Learning Center for needy pre-school children, and Bethesda House (a outreach for victims of AIDS), which sit across from the Parish Church. He was also active in creating Casa Santa Marta I & II (low-income housing for seniors), as well as a Caritas outreach.

During his service to the Diocese of Venice Father Fausto has also been Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Northern Deanery since 1991, Theologian to the Bishop, Director of the Permanent Diaconate, an ex-officio member of the Presbyteral Council, a member of the College of Consultors, Liturgical Commission, and Diocesan School Board, as well as the Diocesan representative on the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Ethics Committee. He is also a Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.

At the conclusion of the “Year for Priests,” in 2010, Father Fausto was honored with the Papal Medal of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and the Pope) from then-Pope Benedict XVI by Bishop Dewane. The Papal Medal is the highest recognition for a Religious Priest and was presented for his exemplary service and for his dedication to the people of St. Martha Parish and to the Diocese of Venice.

Throughout his service to the Church, Father has been with the faithful at every moment of life, from births to deaths and everywhere in between.

To help smooth his transition from Pastor to retirement, the last official act Father Fausto had as Pastor occurred on May 14, 2022, presiding over the First Holy Communion of the students from St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy. At his side was his successor, fellow Pallottine Father Jerzy (George) Suszko. In the following few weeks, he was also present as an assisting priest at Confirmation and at Masses for the students at St. Martha and St. Mary before the close of the Academic Year.

Although he often has the energy of people half his age, Father’s retirement comes in his mid-80s, a time when most people would relax. That is not Father’s style.

First on his agenda is a trip to his home in Rome, Italy, to see family and friends for the first time since the start of the pandemic. While in Italy, Father will also visit the superiors of his religious order, Society of Catholic Apostolates (Pallottines).

Upon his return to the U.S., he will vacation at national parks in the American West, something he has done for decades. After that, he will assist at St. Martha whenever he is needed.

“I will be living in Sarasota and remaining at St. Martha,” Father Fausto explained. “I’m going to help. It is part of being a religious priest. The Pallottines are staying here so I will be here. This is my home; my family.”

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